The Christian and Politics – The Long-Term View

June 3, 2016

We, as Americans, enjoy, for now, a form of government known as a Republic. This form of government was wisely intended by our Founding Fathers to be a middle way between despotic rule and pure democratic forms of self-rule. Representatives duly elected by the citizenry are to enact laws. There are processes in place whereby those laws can be challenged and overturned. Good laws can be passed, and bad laws can be passed. Good laws can be overturned, and bad laws can be overturned. We must also not be so naïve as to think our form of government will remain as it was, or even as it is. As the oft-quoted Benjamin Franklin famously replied, when asked about the form of government that emerged out of the Constitutional deliberations, we have “A republic, if you can keep it.”

As such, Christian citizens should use our influence to represent God’s voice by seeking moral and helpful legislation, by electing men and women of moral character, and by holding them accountable for their decisions and actions through involvement and how we use our votes. We also must understand that the political machine will not always work in our favor. God’s design for human flourishing will not always be reflected in our human government. In fact, we can expect that over time all human government will drift further away.

The Founding Fathers wisely, I think, feared a pure democracy, and formed a republic to protect “certain unalienable Rights” granted by our Creator. The majority is not always in the right. Our move from an informed “republican” (little R, not the political party) form of government to more “democratic” (little D, not the political party) tendencies will eventually lead to the very despotism the Founding Fathers sought to counter. A suspicious, wariness of the ills of Democracy are echoed in James Russell Lowell’s quote, “Democracy gives every man the right to be his own oppressor.” As Christians being fully aware of the human tendency to foolishly enslave itself, we should not succumb to the pressure to compromise on our convictions, nor should we bow the knee to the culture.

But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. – Jeremiah 29:7, ESV

Biblical Christians understand that this world is not our home, it is not our end-game. As such, we should not aim to use the political system as a means to “heaven on earth”, nor do we aspire to “Christianize” our nation. The former will not happen until Christ returns, the latter is not necessarily equivalent to making disciples of all nations. But we should believe that Jeremiah 29:7 is completely applicable to us, and thus live out the Christian faith in full view, including our principled, biblically informed involvement in political issues in order to work for human flourishing.

One of the ways we seek human flourishing here on earth is through political means. However, we must remain steadfast in this:

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” – Romans 1:16-17, ESV

Christians, in full dependence on the Gospel of Jesus Christ to save and change hearts, should be active in the political process. As best they can, they should vote in accordance with Biblical values, and work to winsomely persuade others to do the same. Always keep this in mind: Political victory is always short-lived. Proclaim mostly the victory that was won at the cross on Calvary. There hung a King the likes of which the world does not deserve. A King who offered Himself completely on behalf of His subjects. A King who is always just, always kind, always good. A King who will reign forever and ever, and a King that allows us to share in His reign. He will return one day, and we will all answer for our lives, including our participation in the political process.

Parting thoughts

As we enter into another heavy political cycle, I want to encourage you with these questions for self-evaluation.

  • Do you ever ponder the truth that the way you vote is reflection of your thoughts, and where you put your trust?
  • What is your motivation for being involved in politics?
  • On what basis do you choose positions, and vote for candidates?
  • Where is your ultimate trust?

As always I’d love to hear your feedback, insight and comments. Please keep it civil and let’s show the world that people can agree or disagree with grace and class. 

Ken Nichols

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